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December 08, 2005


Alexandra Foley

Wow! I am speechless -- but I shouldn't be. Harvard loves to be avant garde but alas, I think the truly avant garde movement is at Princeton with the Anscombe society (it promotes abstinence).

I love your questions to the event promoters and I hope next year Harvard will be open-minded enough to allow an honest exchange of ideas among people of differing opinions.

When it comes to masturbation you always hear that it is a "victimless crime." But I disagree. Generally, there is someone who the person is fantasizing about who is being used - be it Pamela Lee or your next door neighbor. But the real victim is the individual engaging in the activity. By doing this he or she is constricting his or her capacity to love and be a lover to a real person.

Many people who have become really obsessed with auto-erotic activity have said that it has ruined their capacity for a real relationship with someone who has needs and desires of his or her own. If you are used to just getting your own pleasure out of the sex act without a concern for the other, you are going to end up being a pretty lousy lover!! No thanks!

Liz Neville

Meghan-- you are truly a brave soul, an outspoken Christian in a heavily secular, anti-religious place. I've enjoyed your "dispatches from the front", and cheer your courage. As to the latest nonsense you describe, I'm hardly shocked anymore, having read so much about this in the last few years. And I second Alexandra's comment that this focus on what I call "self-service" is (intended or not) going to result in more seperation and loneliness, for women and men. Not only does the culture want to strip away the procreation aspect of sex, even the intimacy is targeted. Sex becomes an infantile, self-centered obsession. And the more the pleasure aspect is the focus, the more it will recede from one's grasp, like poor Tantalus with his hanging fruit. Porn does the same thing to men, as their lonely and betrayed wives and girlfriends report.


This is seriously disgusting. Princeton had something like this a couple of years back. Fortunately, the people who promoted that have faded away and Anscombe is garnering ever increasing attention and awareness from the university community.

Cassy DeBenedetto

Dear Meghan,

This is precisely what the Anscombe Society is trying to respond to by offering another (and what we would argue is a better) view on sex and sexual ethics. Hearing about this seminar makes me very upset. It absolutely blows my mind that at the top universities there exists university-endorsed classes and events that blatantly degrade and disrespect the human person.

You raised the question of women being objectified rather than liberated by a culture valuing "casual" sex. I totally agree. Pursuing sexual pleasure through sex toys and masturbating uses the body as a tool, a means for attaining this pleasure....and it is never ok to instrumentalize the human body as such. Some people would argue "It is my body, who are you to tell me what to do with it?"... but when an action is seen as unhealthy and immoral, I would argue that there is a moral responsibility to oppose such an action, and to communicate the reasons for that opposition. If I knew somebody who was starving herself, I would do what was within my power to stop her, be it talking to her myself or going to someone in a better position to reach her and help her. Why should we not have the same attitude toward sexual acts that are harmful to the body (and I would argue in this case, to one's psychology and inherent dignity too)?

Well, I could go on and on. But I guess I will end by saying that seeing how seminars like this exist now and probably will exist in the future, it is all the more important that there exists another voice in the discussion on sex. A voice that is confident, intelligent, courageous, and compassionate, and which offers others a true vision of freedom and love.


Dear "Modestly Yours" affiliates:

Harvard is a leading research university, and certainly holds scientific seminars. And while I gather you choose not to benefit from this one, you definitely utilize innumerable other scientific discoveries everyday.

Don't repress yourself; it's not healthy. And don't campaign developments in science be kept quiet.

Sincerely Yours,
Juli, FL


The rubber duck is also a vibrator. It's "disguised" as a rubber duck for privacy.

Wendy Shalit


I didn't realize that this seminar had such a scientific angle. Did you fly in from Florida to attend?

If this is indeed what passes for "science" then scientific development must be stalled a few thousand years, since the female sexual response was not, in fact, discovered recently.

Also, you seem like such a tolerant person, so why do you have to call us "repressed"?

Is not modesty a legitimate "lifestyle" choice?

victor lectus

"Don't repress yourself; its not healthy"

Good one there Julie!!! I always get a kick out of bumper-sticker logic - - its so..... bumpy.

It's not suprising to see people still fooled by their own propaganda. I've known alcoholics, drug addicts, people with AIDS and adults divorced from adultery who ALL wished they (or others) practised a little more "repression". The negative effects on these people's health, careers, friends, families, finances and souls continue to be staggering, not only in their scope and endurance, but in their utter avoid-ability.

Every "it" is not "okay", Julie. Sometime try restraint...it's not unhealthy.

With PhD in Passion

Dear Juli in Florida,

Your comment made me chuckle, as clearly you don't know our little secret. Us Modest Girls are not repressed, just the opposite and our men do know it, as they are passionately grateful that our intimacy and passion do not need seminars and remedial training. Far from it.

Harvard, given the standing room only status of the seminar, is apparently packed full of people who need "special ed" in their intimacy. Us Modest Girls come naturally with a PhD. :-)

Lastly, I didn't know serious Harvard science programs require the distribution of toys, and rubber duckies. Is Harvard recruiting scientists from the local day care? Hmmmm.....I doubt it. Instead it reveals that Harvard students and apparently the faculty, sadly, use plastic pieces to address a far reaching loneliness and repression.

With Love, from someone holding a PhD in Passion (Gratefully not from Harvard)

A "Modestyly Yours" Affiliate

Dear Juli,
Can you please define "repressed"? Are you suggesting that you think that we don't enjoy or want to have sex? Define please. Thanks.


This "seminar" was organized by the Radcliffe Union of Students, and the speaker is the owner of a sex boutique. With a vagina puppet. In a nutshell, this is what's wrong with feminists today. Instead of gazing at their navels, they're gazing at their vaginas. Talk about a fetish.

There are a good many serious issues faced by girls and women around the world today: domestic violence, honor killings, slavery and trafficking, genital mutilation, poverty, etc., etc. It's pathetic how fixated American feminists are on their vaginas and their sexual pleasure. Get some books, experiment, figure it out. Bully for you. But please stop making public spectacles about it.

Meghan Grizzle

Wow, I'm glad this post generated so many responses! Thanks for all the words of encouragement from other modest men and women. To the woman with a PhD in Passion--I can't wait for the day when I can truly reward my husband with this passion (now God, can you please send him to me soon?!?!).

And just to clarify, this seminar was not Harvard University-sponsored. Garnets got it right. It was sponsored by the Radcliffe Union of Students, which is a feminist group within Harvard College. Here's a bit from their mission statement: "The Radcliffe Union of Students is the mechanism through which all female undergraduates at Harvard may have their voices heard. RUS is an organization devoted to discussing and acting upon all issues important to women."

I have a few problems with the above. One is that my voice cannot really be heard in RUS because my opinion is not of the same left-wing tone. And secondly, all these issues important to women basically include abortion (the right to "choose," I mean), sexual liberation, and a women's center on campus (before we even have a student center--I'll probably talk about this later because of my feelings about what type of women to whom this center will really be welcoming.)

Cassy--I will definitely be sending a message your way soon about the Anscombe Society. It is so heartening to hear from a fellow Ivy Leaguer who is fighting the good fight!

Juli in FL--Please do inform us why this seminar was scientific in anyway and how I was and am impeding scientific developments.

Thanks, everyone!



I think in this case "repress" applies to the repression of sexual desires, here specifically the desire to gratify oneself.

I'm all for self restraint, but I'm concerned that anyone would go so far as to call masturbation "unhealthy." I certainly wouldn't go so far as to compare it with drug addiction, alcoholism, or self-starvation, all of which are DSM IV classified disorders. If there is any data supporting the idea that non-compulsory masturbation is harmful, I for one would like to see it.

Liz Neville

Double cheers for the comments of "PhD in Passion" and "Garnets"-- witty, pithy, and oh so true.

Harvard Fan

I just wanted to say that Meghan Grizzle is one of the foremost conservative leaders at Harvard. She fights the good fight and is a hero to all who know her.

Keep up the good work!


Seamas: "I'm all for self restraint, but I'm concerned that anyone would go so far as to call masturbation "unhealthy.""

Have you ever heard of 'memes'? Perhaps you are new to the discussion :)

Seamas: "I certainly wouldn't go so far as to compare it with drug addiction, alcoholism, or self-starvation, all of which are DSM IV classified disorders."

How about sexual addiction? Does that count?


While the idea of memes is certainly interesting, memetics itself remains a contraversial subject as far as being a valid field of science. So I'm not sure I could count any data stemming from it as reliable. Also, I'm not sure exactly how you're applying the term here (i.e. what the meme is, how it's being passed and how it's unhealthy), so I'm not entirely sure what you mean. I AM new to the discussion, though, so I would appreciate any enlightenment you could toss my way.

I wouldn't compare masturbation (again, non-compulsory) to sexual addiction, either. Masturbation does not lead to sexual addiction, nor is it necessarily a component of sexual addiction. True sexual addiction is a rare beast indeed, and it IS extremely unhealthy. But to imply that the two are the same or even similar is just too big a stretch.

My point was only that masturbation in and of itself is not classified as a psychiatric disorder of any kind, and so should not be likened to things that are.


Just because masturbation is not labled as a disorder, doesn't mean that it needs to be considered "no big deal." This conversation is about sexuality on a spiritual level and how our actions--even ones that are directly towards ourselves--do have consequences. These consequences can reach to the other people in our life with whom we have relationships.

Yes, this goes beyond the 'me me me' of our society.


Before slinging psych terms like "repression" around, Juli might want to understand what they actually mean.

A person making a conscious choice to lead a sexually modest life - or even outright abstinence outside of marriage - is not "repressed" by the very fact that they are aware of their agency and its consequences. One might as well call athletic or diabetic people "repressed" because of their strict nutritional practices.

That said, A. Foley's comments about the dangers of masturbation confuse cause and effect quite completely. People incapable or unwilling to connect intimately with others might indeed rely on masturbation to sate their sexual appetites, but it does not follow that masturbating caused their intimacy problems to begin with.


Ok, I wrote something serious. It got quite long, actually, and rather scientific.

Then I realized that many of you literally believe in the old (and new) testament, e.g. that the earth was created 6xxx years ago; that there is an invisible man in the sky, who is actually quite childish and mean when you do read the bible; that you do believe in a kind of scientific conspiracy (yep, there are actually ten thousands of researchers publishing evolutionary papers, and they all, secretely (sic!) meet and come up with lies); alternatively, that god burried fossils in the earth to make fun of people.

The craziest idea, however, is that you, out of 3.59 bazillion religions that exist and have existed, are the only ones (!) who got it right.

Think about it. Muslims. Hindus. Buddhists. Jews. And, of course, the great juju up the mountain (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fPJQw-x-xho&feature=player_embedded). The list goes on for thousands of pages.
What are the odds?

So, I deleted the post. There's no point to it, really, especially since I'm quite sure it would have been "censored" anyway.

I don't mind religions - I think they are quite a nice thing. What really freaks me out is when people get their freedoms limited because of irrational belief systems. Masturbation is NOT a bad thing, no matter how often you scream it. Homosexuality is NOT a bad thing, no matter how often you wave your ludicrous flags, saying "god hates fags". God hates hate, if you ask me.

Sex is a thing most people enjoy. If you don't enjoy it, don't do it. If you have concerns about people being to young for sex, yes, I agree. But if people are allowed to drive the freaking car with 16, they can very well have sex with 16.

Driving a car is MUCH more dangerous, regarding physical health. Having good sex, on the other side, is, in all studies I know of, very closely connected to emotional well being.

This is one of the most sensible speaches of today's world, regarding the topic sex. It's only 8 minutes, and hopefully worth your time. But I do very much think so.


I apologize for my English, by the way, I'm no native speaker.


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